This patent application patent application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/316,992, filed on Dec. 18, 2008, which claims priority to provisional patent application No. 61/008,957, filed Dec. 21, 2007, which in herein incorporated by reference.
FIELD OF THE DESCRIBED EMBODIMENTS
The described embodiments relate generally to web browsing. More particularly, the described embodiments relate to a method and apparatus for supplementing a user's web browsing.
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The internet can connect individuals through, for example, a mesh of social networks, portals, commerce sites and forums. Many of these sites attempt to model relationships to facilitate commerce and build systems for providing recommendations. These social networks include many individuals that can interact with each other,
There is a lack, however, of a useful mechanism within social networks for mimicking interpersonal trust and reference networks. For example, if one needs to find a babysitter, a heart surgeon or a plumber, one generally turns to trusted friends to obtain references. That is, these referred service providers involve the well-being of family, and/or impact ones finances, and therefore, are typically naturally screened by the person looking for a reference. However, the recommendations provided by social networks do not include a personal connection between the recommender and the receiver of the recommendation. Additionally, the strength of the recommendations can be difficult to determine.
It is desirable to have a method, system and apparatus in which groups of commonly associated individuals can provide an internet user that is web browsing with additional intelligence. It is additionally desirable that the method, system and apparatus be adaptively updated as information associated with the groups change over time.
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One embodiment includes a method of providing a user with a web-browser supplement. The method includes providing access to a focal group, wherein the focal group includes at least one member having at least one association with the user. Access is provided to information associated with the at least one member having relevance to the focal group. Web browsing by the user is supplemented by information of the members of the focal group.
Another embodiment includes a method of overlaying web browsing with focal group intelligence. The method includes creating a focal group, wherein the focal group includes at least one other user having at least one association with the user. Information about the at least one other user having relevance to the focal group is obtained. Web browsing by the user is over-layed, thereby supplementing the web browsing by the user by providing information of the other users of the focal group.
Other aspects and advantages of the described embodiments will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, illustrating by way of example the principles of the described embodiments.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
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FIG. 1 shows an example of a user computing device that can utilize methods of supplementing web browsing of the user.
FIG. 2 shows the computing device of FIG. 1, and examples of supplementing web pages being browsed by the user.
FIG. 3 is a flow chart that includes steps of an example of a method of supplementing a user\'s web browsing.
FIG. 4A shows an example of a visual display that can be used to adaptively depict relationships between a user and members of a focal group.
FIG. 4B shows another example of a visual display that can be used to adaptively depict relationships between a user and members of a focal group.
FIG. 5 is a flow chart that includes steps of an example of a method of overlaying web browsing with focal group intelligence.
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As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the described embodiments are embodied in an apparatus and method for supplementing web browsing of a user. The web browsing can be of any form including textual, audio or visual formats, and can be supplemented with any combinations of textual, audio or visual formats, or any other format that can be used for web browsing.
FIG. 1 shows an example of a computing device 110 that can utilize methods of supplementing web browsing of a user of the computing device 110. For this embodiment, the user\'s computing devices includes a plug-in 120. An embodiment of the plug-in 120 is a software program that when executed supplements the user\'s web browsing by supplementing information provided by the web browsing with information associated with a focal group. That is, the user\'s web browsing is improved by manipulating the information provided to the user based on intelligence and information provided by members of the focal group, or obtained by members of the focal group.
As shown, the computing device 110 is connected through a network 130 to web server 140 and a focal group server 150. For this example, the web server 140 allows the user to “surf” internet, and access web pages. The web pages provide the user with information related to a subject as generally (but not exclusively) determined by the user. The web server 140 and the focal group server 150 are shown as separate servers. However, it is to be understood that this is merely one example of how access to web page information and focal group information can be provided.
As shown, the focal group server 150 maintains information of the focal group. Generally, this information includes the members of one or more focal groups that have some relationship with the user. Additionally, the focal group server 150 can maintain information of each user of each focal group. As will be described, the members of the focal group can be one or more individuals and/or corporate entities. The focal group can be created, or borrowed from somewhere else. The information associated with each member can include many things, such as, for example, preferences, knowledge, history of interactions with the user, and/or experiences of the member. Additionally, the focal group information can be supplemented with focal group applications.
Supplementing Web Browsing
Supplementing the user\'s web browsing can be provided in one or more ways. The web browsing can be supplemented by, for example, providing additional information to information provided by a web page, filtering information of the web page, and/or sorting information of the web page. Again, the supplementation is based on the information associated with members of the focal group, and therefore, the intelligence of the focal group members can be used to the advantage of the user when web browsing.
Generally, a focal group is a small restricted group of people who are associated based on activity or topic. The focal group can include, for example, a group of friends, family members or people with common interests. As will be described, a focal group can include any number of members. The member can be individual people or even corporate entities. The focal group can include, for example, a single person who is considered an expert in a particular subject area, or the focal group can include many individual who are commonly associated by some activity or other criteria. The focal groups can be formed, or borrowed from somewhere else.
Focal Group Information
As described, web browsing of the user is supplemented by the focal group information. The focal group information can include, for example, a proficiency of group members, a degree of affinity between group members, a history of proficiency and affinity of group members, a member\'s rating by group members, reviews and/or opinions of the member, any information contributed by members, events involving a group member, actions taken by a group member, requests for information put in by other group members for a group member, and/or member ownership of a product or usage of a service. It is to be understood that an embodiment includes the focal group information being dynamic. Actions by each of the focal group member can cause the focal group information to change.